Design Week Recap


Drawing Inspiration at Phoenix Design Week


There’s a convention for everyone nowadays. From techies to Trekkies, there is a weekend gathering for all subsets and fanatics. Graphic designers aren’t any different. For Phoenix graphic designers, the event of choice is Phoenix Design Week. Held on the first weekend of October, the event is meant to inspire, connect and engage the local design scene.

This year’s theme, Beyond Design, broke from Design Week’s traditional tagline, Method and Madness, bringing a new life to the Phoenix Convention Center. Featuring speakers from across the country involved in the many facets of the design world, attendees had the opportunity to hear their stories, ask questions, and even attend breakout sessions for a more hands-on experience.

Phoenix Design Week is an opportunity for Defero’s graphic designers to find new inspiration in their work, both on and off the company clock. The team uses it to remind themselves why they love their jobs and that they consider themselves lucky to do them. To paraphrase Aaron Draplin, talented freelancer and the convention’s keynote speaker, designers are not “moving pylons,” instead “we get to do this.” Draplin’s captivating personality and never-ending optimism provided renewed love and joy, not only for design but for life in general. Detailing his start in the design world and beyond, he spoke about all that can come from one “crusty little mouse finger.” That one little finger can create images and logos which could establish brands, sell goods, and pay bills. In Draplin’s individual breakout session, he offered more hands-on tips and tricks that Defero’s team has already benefited from.

The team also heard from Disney’s Principle Designer, Steve Thompson. Currently, you can find his work all over Disney stores, his sketches brought to life as snow globes, figurines, ornaments and the like. Although this might seem like the dream job, Thompson originally wanted to be an animator and follow in the footsteps of his heroes. However, after working on films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Walt Disney Animation Studios—his dream job—closed its doors. In searching for ways to continue doing what he loved, Thompson took a chance on a job as Principal Designer, creating product designs for Disney Stores. Despite self-doubt at the beginning, the opportunity brought him to where he is today: happily dreaming up souvenirs and collector’s items. His talk was a powerful reminder of the unexpected twists and turns that sometimes present themselves in the industry. In his words, “Your career path will take you many places, sometimes unexpectedly. Follow what feels right for you and enjoy the ride.”

…one little finger can create images and logos which could establish brands, sell goods, and pay bills.

In total, the Defero team had the pleasure of listening to eight inspiring voices tell their stories. Two Phoenix designers, Jon Arvizu, and Lyn Fisher, showed how they brought their personal style to their work, encouraging the audience to do the same. Brand Strategist, Nikita Pope, spoke about how personal identity and connection are the ultimate foundations of a relatable business. Industry veteran Armin Vit imparted his 20 years of wisdom and encouraged attendees to create things that are worth keeping. Driven by the “who” and the “what”, Ann Yoachim drove home the message that design can be used for more than just selling things, it can create change that makes a positive difference in the community.

Phoenix Design Week may seem like just another weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center to many, but for those in the creative field, it’s an opportunity to gather, learn and reevaluate the design process. It’s a time to be reminded that great design doesn’t come from an Adobe subscription, it comes from dedicated individuals dedicated to improving their craft every day.

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